I owned the DR650 for about 40,000 miles, and rode the Trans-America Trail with it, alongside a friend on the XR650L. I've only test-ridden the WR250R, but have been following it's progress very intently here and on other forums. I've crossed North America several times, Mexico a couple times, and rode from Canada to South America and back - those experiences lead me to these conclusions:
I'd take a WR250R in a heartbeat, but ONLY if I packed very light (which I now do). My gear, including weight of the soft luggage, is about 40-45 pounds (with no camping gear), and includes tools, spare tubes, and everything I'd ever need. Much more weight and it would cancel the 250's positive's and fun factor - it's light weight, handling, and fuel economy.
The XR650L the friend rode is a very solid machine. He shipped it from the U.K. to Toronto, and rode it to the start of the Trans-America Trail in Tenessee. He said that hiway ride was very uncomfortable and he hated it. I have some experience riding the Honda, and found it adequate for hiways of any kind, but was not nearly as enjoyable as the WR250R or the DR650R. He also had issues with the subframe and battery compartment as listed earlier in this thread - as well as the mounts for his big Acerbis tank which seemed weak. All in all though, I wouldn't hesitate to take that bike around the world. It's comfortable enough, reliable enough, and fun to ride. It'll handle any rough roads you want to throw at it for sure, but it DOES feel signifigantly more top heavy than the other two, which could be a big factor for the smallest member of your group.
My first choice would definitely be the DR650. Much has been said about the KLR650 being a better hiway bike, but after riding a 2006 (older generation) and then a 2008 (new generation) KLR650 back to back with the DR650 on several occasions, I find the DR650 to be superior in almost every way on the hiway and absolutely superior offroad. The new KLR is a closer match (on the hiway only) to be honest, but just felt like such a BIG bike (and I'm 6'4" and 230 pounds). I rode my DR650 from Edmonton, Alberta to the start of the Trans-America trail via Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C.. It was smooth and comfortable all day long - I did the 2500 miles to New York in 5 days, averaging just below 50mpg. For me, the DR650 would be the best "do it all comfortably" bike of the three you've chosen, regardless of how you pack it or what terrain you use it on. It's also VERY easy to service and get spare parts for, and is extremely reliable.
Going through your chart, here are my comments/experience on some points:
WEIGHT - If you're able to pack VERY light like I do, the WR250R would be extremely enjoyable to me on a trip like you're doing.
TANK SIZE/RANGE - only on one portion of the Trans-America Trail is a range of 175 miles needed. Everywhere else I've ever traveled to in North, Central, and South America a 200 mile overall range has been more than sufficient. However, more range is always a plus for peace of mind and those "what if" situations.
FUEL ECONOMY - the 3 XR650L's that I've been around got closer to 40mpg average. My DR and two others from close experience got 50mpg or better on the highway and 45-ish offroad (mid to high 30's if you were pushing it VERY hard). The WR250R will get better mileage UNLESS it's loaded up or being pushed, then it will suffer.
SUB FRAME: The DR's subframe will be adequate for whatever you load it with. The XR's, from what I've seen and heard are not quite as robust but will do fine if you keep the weights moderate - other's with more immediate experience may tell you more. The WR's appears to be as strong as the XR's if not better, but again, it's not a bike you want to load up to begin with.
COMP RATIO: This is actually a major factor. The WR uses high octane gas. I wouldn't hesitate to put a tank of low grade in it on occasion, but sometimes for long-ish stretches low grade is all you'll find. You can carry octane boost, which is readily available in Central and South America, but I have no experience with finding it in other parts of the world. Something you'll want to research.
FUEL SYSTEM: A fuel injected system, to me, is a plus, simply because you'll get the best possible settings for any altitude automatically. On long trips with frequent altitude changes, it's a huge blessings. Fuel Injection is not as dead-simple reliable as a carburetor of course, but I'd trust one anywhere. Any new (or new to me) bike that I purchase WILL have fuel injection or I won't buy it - I've had enough of trying to sort out carburetor settings.
COOLING SYSTEM: Radiators are more fragile, obviously. The cooling system can be a factor in several areas of the world. A lot of cities in Central and South America have slow moving or stop-and-go traffic, and you'll see a lot of those traffic conditions and hot, slow riding in Africa and South-East Asia. Both 650's will be just fine as long as you're moving. Keep an eye on temperatures in difficult situations (especially stop-and-go traffic in hot weather at high altitude....like Mexico City).
REAR WHEEL: This is a weak point of the DR650. 17" tires are not as readily available. I've never had problem finding a 17" in general - you just might not get the model/type you prefer. You can check ahead at destinations you'll arrive in when you've estimated your tires will need replacing.
GROUND CLEARANCE: In my opinion, not an issue on any of the bikes. The DR650, with the lowest of the three, handled the Trans-America Trail with absolutely no issues.
Every bike has it's issues or compromises. You can either choose a bike based on what "moves you" and deal with those issues, or choose a bike based on what has the least amount of issues for your riding intentions. The DR650, according to both my experiences and research, is the bike that has the LEAST amount of issues (or has issues that are are easily/cheaply fixable). I've also found it to be incredibly reliable, plenty powerful yet cheap to run, fun and easy to ride, inexpensive to purchase and maintain, easy to maintain, light and maneuverable offroad but very smooth and comfortable on road - which to me make it the best choice for a RTW bike.
So, for your needs:
First Place = DR650
Second Place = XR650L
Third Place = WR250R
Good luck, and enjoy every moment. :)
Originally Posted by bigalsmith101
|After Market Tank||5.8gl||6.6||4.5gl||O||OO||O|
|Max Tank Range||290||330||279||O||OO||O|
|Sub Frame||Steel ||Steel ||Steel||O||O||O|
|Fuel System||Carb||Carb||Fuel Injected||O||O||X|
|Cooling System||Air Cooled||Air Cooled ||Water Cooled||O||O||X|
|Rear Wheel ||18"||17"||18"||O||X||O|
|2008 Model Cost Avg||3,500.00 ||3,500.00 ||4,200.00 ||O||O||X|